Instant Observations Following Patriots' 13-9 Win Over Cowboys
It feels like we keep on saying that the New England Patriots get a good win but there is still a lot of room for improvement. That is still the case in a sloppy, rainy game against the Dallas Cowboys, in which they won 13-9.
The Patriots will now go to Houston to play the Texans in a Sunday night showdown on the first day of December. However, just in case you missed the Week 12 game, here is what happened:
Stephon Gilmore smothered a red-hot Amari Cooper
We mentioned Sunday morning that taking Cooper away would be key to shutting down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. The two really feed off each other and when Cooper is having a good game, Dallas is generally having a good game.
Stephon Gilmore held Cooper to zero catches in Week 12. No catches by your star receiver generally translates to a bad day on offense. Which was the case as the best offense in football was held to only three field goals through four quarters.
Gilmore also recorded a phenomenal interception in coverage against Cooper, which came on a slightly under thrown ball by Prescott. Fabulous play none the less.
N'Keal Harry grabs his first touchdown
It t'was a wonderful sight. The first round pick scored his first career NFL touchdown. Brady put the back shoulder fade right on the money and the big, 6-foot-4 target boxed his way out of coverage and grabbed the ball right on the sideline of the endzone.
Harry struggled a bit through the rest of the game. He would see three more targets and not haul in any of them. That includes a bad drop on a comeback near the sideline.
Wynn and LaCosse showed they can help in the run game
Isaiah Wynn had some ups and downs in his first game back from injury. He gave up a few pressures to Robert Quinn early in the game but settled down as the game went along.
However, something you cannot complain about was the run blocking by Matt LaCosse and Isaiah Wynn today. They sealed edges for Sony Michel and opened up the outside run game, which has come at a premium for the Patriots this season.
Watch this block by LaCosse on the edge here:
This was certainly encouraging for a team that during the Wynn absence found themselves extremely predictable and one dimensional by always having to resort to the air.
Now, moving forward, if New England can build on this game and get blocks like they did from LaCosse and Wynn, this offense will get a lot better heading towards the playoffs.
Michel is getting stronger and stronger
Have you heard this before? Remember how Sony Michel got stronger and stronger as the season progressed last year? Well, he is quietly doing so again this year.
To the same magnitude? No, at least not yet. However, there is still a lot of football left to be played before the playoffs come around.
Michel had his best day rushing since the Giants game in Week 6. In that game, he rushed for 86 yards. In Week 12 he rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and although the rushing yards haven't been great lately, he has looked more explosive and has shown flashes relaying back to last season.
Last year's Sony is in there somewhere and he showed it at times on Sunday and over the last few weeks. He just needs more consistency and more time with old college pal Isaiah Wynn will help.
Offense does great job of getting to Cowboys' 40 yard line; stall afterwards
It seems like every single Patriots drive would start at the 25 yard line and work it's way to the Cowboys' 40. Looking promising, the wheels would fall off every time the Patriots tried to get into the redzone.
The Patriots flirted with the red zone all day long, but struggles to actually get in there. Needless to say, there are still a lot of kinks they have to work out playcalling wise when the field starts to condense.
Lastly, in case you didn't know - the Patriots defense is pretty good
After the Eagles' 95-yard drive for a touchdown early last week, Patriots twitter went to flames. Fans started to question whether the defense was actually good or whether it was the product of an easy schedule.
The Patriots' defense proceeded to shut down the Eagles' offense the rest of the game and now they allowed even less points to the top ranked offense in the league.
Prescott, an MVP hopeful, was silenced. A red-hot Amari Cooper erased. Michael Gallup made little impact.
The high scoring, big play Dallas offense was silenced. Get rid of the easy schedule narrative. The Patriots faced one of their toughest tests to date and allowed nine points. They are elite.